Call Me By My Name And I’ll Seat You Under Yours

, , , , , , , | | Right | May 17, 2019

(I work as a Maitre’D for a restaurant in a pretty fancy part of New York City. The chef is Michelin Starred, NYT reviewed, and pretty popular with celebrity clientele. The restaurant is his newest venture, and is very trendy in the industry. An online media company with a show devoted to comparing different styles of food has recently released a video featuring our restaurant, and combined with the chef’s reputation and the style of the restaurant, getting a reservation is difficult and walking in for seating is even more so. My job is to seat reservations, help walk-ins, and manage the waitlist. Because of the popularity, many people try to circumvent me, but sometimes they drive me to my breaking point.)

Customer: “Hello, we’d like a table for four. And we’ll need a high chair for our youngest.”

Me: “Wonderful. Unfortunately, at this point, we have about a two-hour wait for a party of four.” *notices some movement out of the corner of my eye* “However, it looks like there are some seats opening up at our counter seating right now. Those seats are first-come, first-served, so if you’d like to grab those you could dine immediately!”

(Her husband moves over with her kids to claim the seats; however, the woman remains in front of me.)

Customer: “That’s not going to work. My son can’t sit up on a stool that high. We need a table in the dining room right now.”

(Her son is sitting perfectly fine on the stool after his father puts him up there.)

Me: “Unfortunately, ma’am, I am booked full with reservations and I do have quite a waitlist already going. It could potentially be sooner if I have reservations that don’t show and parties on my waitlist also don’t return, but without both of those possibilities occurring, the counter seating is your quickest bet.”

Customer: “I can’t believe this. I come in here all the time. I’m here every weekend and we never have to wait. I am a good friend of [Chef] and we always get a seat. I’m on your VIP list. Don’t you know who I am?!

Me: “Don’t you know who I am?”

Customer:I want to– Wait… What?”

Me: “Don’t you know who I am? You say you’re in here all the time. I’m one of three people employed here in this position and have been here since the restaurant opened. If you’re here as often as you say then you should know who I am. You’re one of 300 people I am seeing this afternoon alone; I don’t know who you are. But if you can tell me my name, I’d be happy to get you seated.”

(The woman’s mouth opens and closes like a fish before she grunts and turns to join her family. My manager, who I didn’t notice was watching from just off the floor, approaches me. I’m convinced I’m about to be reprimanded, if not fired for talking to a guest like that. But to my surprise…)

Manager: “If she comes back up here and asks to speak to a manager, just give her my card and have her email or call me. I’ll make sure the boss and chef don’t hear about it. I just didn’t want to deal with her and you looked like you could take care of it.”

(Cue the sighs of relief.)

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